Telemedicine is the use of technology to exchange medical information among providers. This innovative approach to patient care allows physicians to consult with one another without traveling to remote sites. Current and upcoming telemedicine services at Children’s Health℠ are outlined below.
In late 2013, Children’s Health launched the Children’s Health TeleNICU, Texas’ first dedicated neonatal telemedicine service. The TeleNICU uses specialized equipment that allows expert neonatologists at Children’s Health to examine newborns virtually, at distant-site NICUs.
The new service provides physicians at other hospital NICUs with 24-hour access to the highly trained, board-certified UT Southwestern neonatologists on Children’s medical staff to consult on care for the region’s tiniest, most seriously ill babies.
What the Children’s Health TeleNICU offers to other NICU providers is state-of-the-art telemedicine technology and Level IV NICU support on-demand, 24/7.
The Children’s Health TeleNICU service can be used for a wide range of consults, including interpreting medical data and images, confirming diagnoses, and conferring on treatment plans.
Through innovative telemedicine technology that includes two-way, real-time interactive communication, medical-quality videoconferencing, secure data transfer and digital scoping equipment, nationally-recognized UT Southwestern neonatologists can provide visual examinations and listen to heart, lungs and other vital organs.
For Patients and Families
The Children’s Health TeleNICU service allows UT Southwestern neonatologists at the Children’s Health Level-IV NICU in Dallas to examine newborns virtually by using specialized cameras and stethoscopes.The technology allows the Children’s Health neonatologists to view and discuss medical tests with colleagues in real time. In many cases, families are able to participate directly in the telemedicine consult, so they can see the discussion between the doctors and ask questions.
The treatment decisions made as a part of this collaboration can minimize, or even eliminate, the need to transport babies who need a specialized level of care out-of-town and away from their family and support network. Keeping babies at their home hospital’s NICU is always our goal.
Children’s Health is getting ready to embark on a new project with 26 Dallas-area schools that involves the use of mobile telemedicine carts. The carts will allow for a virtual consultation with a Children’s Health physician when a child shows up in the nurse’s office with a complaint that is outside the nurse’s level of expertise (pre-registration in the program by the parent will be required). The technology also will allow physicians to electronically send prescriptions to the child’s pharmacy.
Other uses for the mobile telemedicine carts include
- Managing chronic illnesses
- Health education (such as how to properly use asthma inhalers)
- Allergy testing recommendations
- Behavioral health coaching (such as for weight management)
Children’s Health is in the process of implementing a program that will allow patients the opportunity to video chat with nurses at a call center.
Other telemedicine initiatives
The following future telemedicine innovations are in the process of being developed:
- Hospital-to-hospital consultations
- Connecting to subspecialists from the Children’s Health℠ Pediatric Group outpatient clinics
- Continuing medical education
- Education of nursing students Engaging rural patients in research initiatives
American Telemedicine Association’s Annual Telemedicine Conference
Click here for information about the American Telemedicine Association’s annual telemedicine conference.